Swatantra Conference 2017

Swatantra 2017 banner

ICFOSS is an organisation set up by Govt. of Kerala, with a goal to spread free software knowledge by connecting and collaborating with international free software communities and organisations. I was invited to be a part of their triennial conference called Swatantra 2017. There were close to 22 speakers from all over the world and this time there was a section on art in open source. This is the first time that a free software conference in India had a section focused on art.

The venue was a nice heritage hotel in Trivandrum, Kerala. Trivandrum is a fantastic city, it is calmer and laid back when compared to Mumbai, it has some Art-deco styled buildings which are often fused with traditional Kerala style architecture. Spent a wonderful time there with David Revoy , Timothée Giet, Praveen, Sumantro, Yogesh, Aruna, other free software enthusiasts from fsci. It was wonderful to meet Arun, Abhas and also Nishant who records music on Linux!

At the conference we were greeted by goodies, they gave us an awesome bag, USB and other items. The conference started with a keynote speech from Karen Sandler, followed by amazing sessions by David Revoy who explained the making of Pepper & Carrot , Sumantro explained how to contribute to Fedora, Aruna spoke about how FOSS empowered her. Timothée showed us how to animate in Synfig and the journey of Gcompris until now. There were many speakers and parallel sessions and I was confused in choosing which ones to attend:).

Me speaking about Free Software usage in commercial art
Me speaking about Free Software usage in commercial art

I had a talk about how libre-software helps me in creating commercial art, you can take a look at the slides and the talk here, although there was a technical glitch during the talk, the audience was very patient and I had wonderful questions from them at the end of the talk. Some of them also asked me questions after the talk, I would be glad to help them more and spread more awareness about using free software to create art. I must thank Timothée for giving me his laptop to do my presentation without which I couldn’t have shown the demo of the software. This talk was a unique experience for me and I learnt that no matter how ready you are there can be anything that can go wrong during a live demo, so in future I will make it a point to test everything on the venue before a day of the actual talk, this really felt like an adventure. I talked to some enthusiastic students from the college of fine art Kerala and also the design team of ICFOSS, I was glad to answer their questions and share my thoughts on working with open source software for design and illustrations.

The bus had disco lights and music 😀

There were dinners, musical night and gathering arranged for us, we also had a tour to nearest Kovalam Beach organised by ICFOSS, it gave nice opportunity to talk and get myself acquainted with other speakers. On the first day, during one of the dinners prior to the event, it was really nice talking about India and it’s diversity with Todd Weaver, CEO of Purism a freedom respecting laptop manufacturing company.

The second day we had a plenary talk from Todd about ethical computing and ethical devices. There were panel discussions about the current state of free software in society and how we should improve it. After the event I spent a day with awesome David Revoy and his wife Alicja, we had some fun visiting local zoo, shopping in the local market and had a great time visiting the College of Fine Arts Kerala. My phone battery died and I don’t have any pictures 🙁 This picture is from David and Alicja.

We went to the local fine art collage
We went to the local fine art collage

This was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed the week and I must really thank Arun, Praveen, Siva & Hasiya from ICFOSS team for making this happen and giving me an opportunity to speak, they did an excellent job managing this entire event, and it was perfectly organised. I hope to be a part of future events too.

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